Come join others currently navigating treatment in our weekly Zoom Meetup! Register here: Tuesdays, 1pm ET.
Fill Out Your Profile to share more about you. Learn more...
Webinar: Corrective Breast Reconstruction: Getting the Results You Want Join us July 9, 2024 at 6pm ET. Register here.

Turmeric/Curcumin - Yes or No?

Options

Many sites suggest turmeric (or curcumin) may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, among other benefits. However, WebMD states:

"Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Turmeric might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't use turmeric." However, I know several MDs who use it themselves.

Has anyone discussed this with their MD or have any insight to contribute to this question?

«13

Comments

  • Zillsnot4me
    Zillsnot4me Member Posts: 2,122
    edited January 2015
    Options

    I have the same question! Awaiting someone more knowledgable's reply.

  • SoLinda
    SoLinda Member Posts: 60
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Yikes! I eat this every day on my salad!!! I make a paste of the curcumin root (I grow it at home and also have turmeric powder which I buy at the grocery store) mixed with garlic, black pepper and olive oil. I REALLY hope it is ok. for me to eat this as my cancer was estrogen and progesterone positive ...

    Awaiting a response from someone more knowledgeable please.

  • Obxflygirl1
    Obxflygirl1 Member Posts: 106
    edited January 2015
    Options

    everything I have read for,the last two years says tumeric is an anti-cancer substance. I also mix tumeric with pepper and olive oil. This is the first I have heard of this. If you google tumeric and cancer, everything says it has anti - estrogen benefits. Sure hope someone comes and sets the record straight. Moderators or Dr. Weiss ?

  • coraleliz
    coraleliz Member Posts: 158
    edited January 2015
    Options

    My MO is OK with me taking Turmeric. I take it because it helps the arthritis pain in my hands.

  • formydaughter
    formydaughter Member Posts: 121
    edited January 2015
    Options

    I just got the go ahead from my MO this week to take tumeric. I'm ER+. But he is not necessarily aware of all food issues, since this is not his focus. I'd like to hear from someone in the know as well!

  • hopeful82014
    hopeful82014 Member Posts: 887
    edited January 2015
    Options
    I suspect that for most other types of cancers turmeric is not a bad idea at all - in fact, it's probably a very good idea. It's probably even safe for TNs. However, most people writing on this topic aren't as aware as some of us need to be of the issues around estrogen. I'm very cautious due to the phytoestrogens and have NO idea how much impact they would have nor how much might be safe - or otherwise. I would love for someone reliably knowledgable to weigh in on this topic.
  • heartnsoul76
    heartnsoul76 Member Posts: 1,204
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Well, for pete's sake!

    I guess I'll quit adding it to my salads and sandwiches until this is clarified a bit more.

    This website (Food for Breast Cancer) also said it can interfere with tamoxifen's effectiveness: http://foodforbreastcancer.com/foods/turmeric

    I never thought it could be BAD for us!

  • coraleliz
    coraleliz Member Posts: 158
    edited January 2015
    Options

    hopeful- can you provide the link to the WebMD page. I tried to use the search feature at that site but couldn't find that quote. Maybe, just maybe they site some references

  • leggo
    leggo Member Posts: 379
    edited January 2015
    Options

    JMO, but there are so many foods that have estrogenic effects that you can't possibly avoid them all and I think that's ok. Those phytoestrogens in that tiny amount just float around in your plasma and are excreted in your urine before it can do any damage. The dangerous thing about phytoestrogen food is foods that contain genestein. That seems to be the isoflavin that binds to receptors and promote estrogen fueled tumor growth. The highest concentration of genistein is found in soy and fava beans. I would just avoid those. 

  • leggo
    leggo Member Posts: 379
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Should clarify, the other isolaflavins bind too, just not like soy (and fava beans).Soy isoflavins tend to actually "seek" out the estrogen receptors, which I think, makes it dangerous for ER+ bc. Again, JMO. 

  • hopeful82014
    hopeful82014 Member Posts: 887
    edited January 2015
    Options
    Leg go - that's interesting info. Can you cite some foundation for it? I don't doubt you but would be interested in the background :)

    Coraleliz - I'll pull that up on my desk top and paste the link a little later today; it's harder to do on my iPad.
  • leggo
    leggo Member Posts: 379
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Hopeful, believe me, it's ok to doubt me. I wouldn't believe anything I read unless I checked it out first. Unfortunately, no, I can't link to any studies or articles for what I said above. Just stuff I remember reading overthe years. I suppose some of this info might show up on Google though. I know Wikipedia usually does a good job of showing the chemistry behind stuff so maybe on there? Also, when it comes to soy, some of that is probably just my own bias and I have a pretty closed mind on soy....filthy, disgusting, toxic product. I'm sure WebMD wouldn't be giving out arbitrary info. If it says turmeric is estrogenic, I'd tend to believe that, but like I said, the question for me is how much.....to me, a little is ok...avoiding all would be impossible. Just how I feel about it with no actual proof to back it up.

  • hopeful82014
    hopeful82014 Member Posts: 887
    edited January 2015
    Options
    I agree with you 100 percent on soy - much as I like some forms of it, I've avoided it for a long time. It's too bad; soy butter was my substitute for nut butters :( I'm going to look at Wikipedia, although chemistry is NOT my strong suit.
  • hopeful82014
    hopeful82014 Member Posts: 887
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Coraleliz (and others): Here's the link: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredie...

    Once you get there, click on the tab labeled 'Side Effects' and the discussion copied above is about mid-way down. There is a drop down for clinical references and citations. I've looked it over and didn't see a cite that stood out regarding phytoestrogenic qualities but I did not go over it with a fine-tooth comb, either.

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited January 2015
    Options

    I found this, rather old, study, which looked for genistein and daidzein in common foods. It concludes that raisins have the highest content: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11002128

    This article is full text, from 2006, and has an extensive list of foods: http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FBJN%2FBJN84_05%2FS0007114500002075a.pdf&code=23672eae167c70557fc0936b8a4b398c

    In the beginning of all this BC fun, I became very paranoid about phytoestrogens. However, all the foods that are supposed to be good for you seem to have high levels of phytoestrogens. So, what to do? I basically avoid any kind of processed and messed with food and stick to food that is in its original form, as far as possible. I use a range of herbs and spices, lots of herbs usually.

    I eat quite a lot of legumes: lentils, chick peas etc. Soy beans are not part of that, mainly because I never ate them. Also, I do not eat meat substitutes or protein powders and the like. It may be crunchy-granola, but it is still highly processed and not "real" food.

    Then I found this on NYU Langone Medical Center site:

    "Like other phytoestrogens, genistein can work in two ways: either by increasing or decreasing the effects of estrogen. This happens because genistein binds to special sites on cells called estrogen receptors. Genistein stimulates these receptors, but not as strongly as real estrogen; at the same time, it blocks estrogen itself from attaching. The net result is that when there is a lot of estrogen in the body, such as before menopause, genistein may partly block its effects. Since estrogen appears to increase the risk of various forms of cancer, regular use of genistein by premenopausal women might help reduce this risk. On the other hand, if there is little human estrogen present, such as after menopause, genistein can partly make up for it. This is one rationale for using genistein to treat menopausal symptoms and to prevent osteoporosis." http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21734

    This makes a lot of sense, and it would suggest that menopausal status is an important consideration in all this.

    Finally, after initially taking various supplements, I now stick to a small calcium and D supplement and probiotics. It seems to me that high doses of anything have the potential to have adverse effects and interactions.

  • Momine
    Momine Member Posts: 2,845
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Oh, and then there is this:

    http://stemcellres.com/content/5/5/116/

    No wonder many of us are confused.

  • Teakie88
    Teakie88 Member Posts: 97
    edited January 2015
    Options

    I take tumeric/curcumin in tablet form everyday, and it already contains the black pepper in it. I purchase mine from Amazon made by Dr. Danielle's. It's kind of pricey, but it saves me from having to mess with mixing up a dosage myself. Curcumin serves as an anti-inflammatory so that your immune system works better to fend off illness and possibly diseases like cancer. It has antioxidant and antitumor properties and has been in use for something like 5.000 years for medicinal purposes. Ann

  • leggo
    leggo Member Posts: 379
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Again, JMHO, but I think a lot of the benefits/risks are related to individual hormonal status of bc and if you've still got working ovaries or not. It's probably not as complicated an issue for other cancers. Breast cancer has way too many variables.

  • hopeful82014
    hopeful82014 Member Posts: 887
    edited January 2015
    Options
    "Breast cancer has way too many variables"


    That's for sure, leggo!

    I read a couple of these studies this a.m. and there is a LOT of fascinating information in them (thanks so much, Momine and Kayb). However, I saw no reference anywhere to the hormone receptor status of any of the bc cells they were using. Now, maybe it doesn't make a difference, but I'd like to see researchers at least acknowledge that results could be influenced by receptor status.

    I'm still on the fence about turmeric, although I suspect Kay's right about the caveats on WebMD being something of a blanket CYA statement...

  • Amy613
    Amy613 Member Posts: 1
    edited January 2015
    Options

    I had curcumin prescribed to me by the cancer center. It's good

  • hopeful82014
    hopeful82014 Member Posts: 887
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Dear Kay - That's an excellent point - I'd been scanning through looking for references to HR status, etc., but it didn't occur to check for refs. to luminal status (slapping forehead). Thank you.

    I think I'm going to research this a bit more but will not out and out avoid turmeric; it's possible role in inhibiting metastasis is certainly intriguing and I'd hate to miss out on that needlessly.

    If anyone comes up with any further insights I'd love to hear about it.

  • granny72
    granny72 Member Posts: 8
    edited January 2015
    Options

    I asked my MO about tumeric and she said to use it on eggs and salads.

    We now put it in our salad dressing every day. My husband and l really like it.

    Healing Spices by Bharat B Aggarwal talks about it and other spices to boost health and beat disease.

  • carol57
    carol57 Member Posts: 1,550
    edited January 2015
    Options

    I emailed Dr. Aggarwal (I just googled to find his email address), asking him for his thoughts about the WebMD cautionary note. He replied, saying that there's evidence that curcumin exhibits anticancer activity against 'hormone-sensitive' cancers. Here is the list of studies he cited in his email:

    1.Inhibitory effect of curcumin on uterine leiomyoma cell proliferation.

    Tsuiji K, Takeda T, Li B, Wakabayashi A, Kondo A, Kimura T, Yaegashi N.Gynecol Endocrinol. 2011 Jul;27(7):512-7.

    2.Why leiomyomas are called fibroids: the central role of extracellular matrix in symptomatic women.

    Malik M, Norian J, McCarthy-Keith D, Britten J, Catherino WH.Semin Reprod Med. 2010 May;28(3):169-79. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1251475. Epub 2010 Apr 22.

    3.Curcumin, a nutritional supplement with antineoplastic activity, enhances leiomyoma cell apoptosis and decreases fibronectin expression.

    Malik M, Mendoza M, Payson M, Catherino WH. Fertil Steril. 2009 May;91(5 Suppl):2177-84.

    1.Curcumin inhibits endometriosis endometrial cells by reducing estradiol production.

    Zhang Y, Cao H, Yu Z, Peng HY, Zhang CJ.Iran J Reprod Med. 2013 May;11(5):415-22.

    2.Curcumin delays endometriosis development by inhibiting MMP-2 activity.

    Jana S, Rudra DS, Paul S, Snehasikta S.Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2012 Oct;49(5):342-8.

    3.Curcumin as anti-endometriotic agent: implication of MMP-3 and intrinsic apoptotic pathway.

    Jana S, Paul S, Swarnakar S.

    Biochem Pharmacol. 2012 Mar 15;83(6):797-804. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2011.12.030. Epub 2011 Dec 29.

    4.Curcumin attenuates TNF-α-induced expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 and proinflammatory cytokines in human endometriotic stromal cells.

    Kim KH, Lee EN, Park JK, Lee JR, Kim JH, Choi HJ, Kim BS, Lee HW, Lee KS, Yoon S.

    Phytother Res. 2012 Jul;26(7):1037-47. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3694. Epub 2011 Dec 20.

    5.Inhibitory effect of curcumin on angiogenesis in ectopic endometrium of rats with experimental endometriosis.

    Zhang Y, Cao H, Hu YY, Wang H, Zhang CJ.

    Int J Mol Med. 2011 Jan;27(1):87-94. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2010.552. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

    6.Curcumin arrests endometriosis by downregulation of matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity.

    Swarnakar S, Paul S.Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2009 Feb;46(1):59-65.

    ------

    I have not attempted to find any of these--just got his email, and I'm traveling for work this week, so no time to work the Internet--but perhaps some of the amazingly savvy women here can check some of these studies out.

    --Carol

  • MiracleMileM
    MiracleMileM Member Posts: 15
    edited January 2015
    Options

    I'm stage IV and with herceptin have been NED for 6-1/2 years. ER 85%, grade 3. Since 30-40% of those with stage IV HER2+++ end up with brain mets, I have been taking at least 4 grams of curcumin (and on an empty stomach 1.5 grams green tea extract wi quercetin) daily to damp down those brain met odds since both pass through the blood brain barrier and have anti-tumor effects. Herceptin does not pass through the blood-brain barrier. I think both also help with the arthritis & arimidex joint pain. I use Dr.'s best C-3 and phytosome. I'm sold on curcumin

  • Scotty
    Scotty Member Posts: 1
    edited January 2015
    Options

    I just read a study which suggests curcumin can inhibit the effects of tamoxifen. My ipad ran out of charge before I saved the link

    I'll have another look for it.

  • LindaKR
    LindaKR Member Posts: 1,304
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Wow, thank you all for all of the great research.

  • denise-g
    denise-g Member Posts: 353
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Carol - thank you thank you thank you for this...I've been on the fence, and taking Turmeric here and there.

    I just found this video as well - it doesn't address estrogen positive cancer though, but I liked the info:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNLt1fZR1BI&x-yt-ts=1421782837&feature=player_embedded&x-yt-cl=84359240


     

  • Dancermom1999
    Dancermom1999 Member Posts: 62
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Ladies: I have been taking Turmeric supplements and just found this on the web. I am er+...uggg...

    Plant Estrogen

    Curcumin is the therapeutic constituent of turmeric. Laboratory research has uncovered a potent phytoestrogen called diarylheptanoid in curcumin, according to Susan Lark, M.D. Phytoestrogens are plant chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen in the body. Lark writes that diarylheptanoid binds to estrogen receptors, causing advantages similar to estrogen. If you are experiencing symptoms such as vaginal dryness, curcumin may be of assistance.

  • hopeful82014
    hopeful82014 Member Posts: 887
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Hi, Dancermom - That's my concern, too, about turmeric. I'd say if you're not ER+ then turmeric's a good thing. If you are, for me the jury's still out until I can obtain more information.

    This doesn't mean I won't use is in cooking but I'm not going to supplement with it just yet.

    Thanks for posting that quote, Dancermom. Can you provide a link to the source as well? (If not, I'll google it.)

  • Dancermom1999
    Dancermom1999 Member Posts: 62
    edited January 2015
    Options

    Hopeful8201...here is the link...my onc said I could take it but now I am going to stop until I can speak to her. If you get more info please please post it.

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/490796-turmeric-...